Honestly, I’ve met so many people here who I’ve become so close to. They’ve changed my life and I love them all so much.

At seventeen-years-old, Abi found herself stuck in the same aimless and isolated routine: staying at home, staying in bed, doing drugs and smoking. With a toxic living environment and heavy childhood trauma weighing on her, it was understandably almost impossible for her to break the cycle.

“It was really rough for me,” she shared. “And I probably wouldn’t have done anything with my life if I hadn’t found the YMCA.”

Eventually, her mental health spiralled to crisis point, and she made the brave step of getting in touch. It turned out to be a decision that would change her whole outlook on life. Once out of an abusive home, she was finally able to reassess everything.

Seven months on, with the help of her Keyworker, Abi’s stopped smoking, she’s working on her mental health, she’s in college and hasn’t done drugs for three months. Wow.

But she was quick to reminded us that it’s a journey:

“At first, it was quite hectic and really scary. I came from having no one and there were so many new people here. It was a lot for me. But I’m slowly getting there and I can definitely see the change in my life. Sometimes I will want to resort to drugs. I just need to remember how far I’ve come – I can’t reverse all that progress just because I’m having had a bad day.”

The thing that really made a difference was the strong, powerful friendships she made. “I will remember these people forever,” her face lit up as she spoke. “Honestly, I’ve met so many people here – other residents – who I’ve become so close to. They’ve changed my life and I love them all so much.”

Now, studying art with aspirations to work in social care, Abi’s aimlessness is a thing of the past: “I’d like to be a social worker, or even someone like the people who work at the YMCA. I’ve seen them make such a big difference in people’s lives and I want to do that. I want to help people who are where I used to be.

“It’s so important not to let your childhood, all your past, and the environment you live in now affect your future,” she was firm. “You need to put your foot down and make your own future and stop letting everything around you decide it for you.”

Yes Abi! Abi is living proof that the healthy changes aren’t always the easiest, but they are most definitely worth it. The decisions she’s made have been beyond impressive and we feel privileged to be a part of them.


There are many ways you can support our work with young people like Abi. Please click here for information on how you might be able to help.